7 May 2009

Government prepares for 80,000 unemployed

7:38 pm on 7 May 2009

The unemployment rate in New Zealand hit a six-year high on Thursday and the Government anticipates 80,000 people may be on the unemployment benefit by early next year.

The unemployment rate is now 5%.

The latest Household Labour Force Survey shows 115,000 people out of work but still actively looking at the end of March, up 7000 since the end of December.

During the first three months of this year, 24,000 people lost their jobs. Part-time jobs fell by 16,000 and fulltime employment was also down.

Numbers in the workforce also fell during the period, despite an increase in the working age population due to higher immigration.

Official figures showed fewer women, over 65s and younger people were looking for jobs. More than 13,000 women opted out of the workforce in the first three months of this year.

Employment Minister Paula Bennett says the figures are much as expected and accordingly, the number of people on the dole is set to rise sharply.

In March 37,000 people were on the dole, rising to 41,000 in April.

Ms Bennett says the Government had initially planned for about 60,000 people to be on the unemployment benefit by early next year, but that has now been upgraded to 80,000.